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Corporate Poetry

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Just in, some promotional material for Poetry for Now: A Collection of Verse from the Heart of Modern Britain:

This book is rather unorthodox in that it contains poems exclusively written by people who work within Britain’s corporate sector. This includes surgeons, dentists, CEOs, solicitors and bankers. Some of these professions are unpopular with the media and are not often associated with the creative arts. Even so, during the past few years there has been a small but growing community of professional workers who are expressing themselves via the medium of ‘corporate poetry’.

A banker writing poems? Unheard of. More puzzling perhaps is the notion that surgeons and dentists ‘work within Britain’s corporate sector’. More puzzling still is the (corporate) identity of the book’s publisher, the First De Sales Limited Partnership of St Helier, Jersey. Their website is unenlightening. But the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee may provide a clue. On 6 December last year, for their report on Tax Avoidance: Tackling Marketed Avoidance Schemes they took oral evidence from, among others, Aiden James, the managing director of Tax Trade Advisors Ltd:

Q2 Chair: So you market yourselves as a tax avoidance business. That is your business model. You are in the business of avoiding tax?
Aiden James: Yes.

Q103 Ian Swales: How many of the schemes you have marketed are now illegal?
Aiden James: Most of them.
Ian Swales: Most of them?
Aiden James: All of them, I suspect.
Q104 Ian Swales: All the schemes you have marketed are now illegal, so you are now looking for the next loophole – is that a fair description of your business?
Aiden James: That is how it works, yes.

The committee pressed him for the name of one the schemes he had promoted that would be covered by the Financial Services Act:

Aiden James: I cannot remember the name; sorry.
Nick Smith: It cannot be that hard.
Aiden James: What I am also thinking is whether legally I am allowed to tell you what it is called, because we have signed a confidentiality agreement on that structure. HMRC is aware of it, so perhaps you should ask HMRC.

A week later, James submitted written evidence to the committee:

I was specifically asked by the Committee for the name of the arrangement we promoted whose promotion was governed by the FSA rules on promotion. Having now checked the terms of the Non-Disclosure Agreement that binds my firm, I am able to confirm that the structure was called “The First De Sales Limited Partnership”, an exempt Limited Partnership registered in the Cayman Islands.

So that’s what they mean by ‘the heart of modern Britain’.

Comments on “Corporate Poetry”

  1. Harry Stopes says:

    I’ve probably missed something, but are you suggesting that publishing this volume of poetry could be part of a tax-avoidance scheme, rather like investing in cinema has been used for the same purpose?

  2. bluecat says:

    Ode to a Tax Avoidance Scheme. perhaps?

  3. alex says:

    Presumably such a genre would be marked by frequent use of elision and litotes.

  4. UKiwi67 says:

    We are all jeering, but a recent novel by C K Stead, called ‘Risk’, features a major character who is a banker and a poet. (Stead is a poet, so it’s not so hard for him to confect a few moderately credible pieces for his character).

  5. ejh says:

    When I saw the headline “Corporate Poetry” I thought you were going to write about that Tesco ad in the papers last week.

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